By: Sara Yonis
Queen’s Park will be providing Ontario post secondary institutes $27 million dollars over next three years to help students with any mental health issues – and Humber will be playing a key role.
The first major part of this program is the creation of a help line that will be launched in the fall across Ontario colleges and universities, the government said in an announcement on Tuesday.
The phone line will provide 24/7 help for students and is being spearheaded by Kids Help Phone, which has partnered up with several agencies including ConnexOntario, Ontario 211, the Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health, and post secondary institutions.
“Early identification and intervention can help put young people back on track,” Brad Duguid, the minister of training, colleges and universities, said Tuesday in a Toronto Star report.
“The new province-wide helpline will provide support for college and university students 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, no matter where they are,” Duguid said.
“It’s essential when someone calls during crisis they will be put to a counsellor with Kids Help Phone, ” Andrew Benson, executive director of Ontario 211, a provider of information and referral services.
Anyone calling the line who and needs more support will directed to ConnexOntario,” which provides free and confidential health services, Benson said.
“We are sort of the umbrella to connect people to other information lines like the mental health line,” Benson said.
Jen McMillen, Humber’s director of student access, wellness and development said the college will play a key role implementing counseling training for Ontario post-secondary schools.
Over the next two years Humber will train more than 2,500 post-secondary faculty, staff and student leaders to provide counselling, she said.
“We know that students at some times need some help and support at all hours of the day,” she said.
“The idea is wouldn’t it be great if we could identify those students and say: ‘You know what? If it’s after hours, if it’s on the weekend, if it’s the middle of the night and you’re wanting someone to talk to, here’s the number you can call,’” she said.
As well, McMillen said the help line should be a resource where people are familiar with what it’s like to be a student.
McMillen was chosen to head the training because of her experience with mental health first aid, she said. In spring 2012, Humber College offered a two-day course on mental health first aid.
McMillen said that course provided people with the knowledge to pick up on symptoms and signs of mental health issues, and on how to communicate with people in crisis.
“Since we developed some capacity and expertise n mental health first aid on a post secondary campus we put in a proposal that said we could expand that and offer support and coordinator services to the rest of the province,” she said.